27 March 2009

I Bought MadWorld.

So shut yer cakehole.

Not that it was my obligation or anything. Just because I WANTED TO. I recommend it to you if you like hard-boiled comic books, stylistic gore, underground hip-hop, and side-scrolling beat 'em ups. But don't be a fool and buy it just because it's 'mature'. 'Mature''s not a genre; that doesn't help you decide whether you'll like it or not. I could expend 5,000 words or more on the inadequacy of terms like 'casual', 'hardcore' and 'mature', but I'll save that for another day. Instead, I'll tell you this; MadWorld's success - good as it is - is Sega's responsibility, not yours. If MadWorld fails to sell a million copies, it's not your fault for not buying two copies and telling your twenty friends to go out and buy it as well; it's Sega's fault for not promoting it aggressively enough. So read the review, see if it sounds like your cup o' tea, rent it if need be, and go out and buy it if you want to play it. Don't buy it just because it's 'mature' [which I assume means it has lots of blood and gore] and you want to secure the possibility of seeing more 'mature' titles on the Wii in the future. It's not your responsibility.

MadWorld: it's a good game. Buy it if you want.

Videogame publishers needs to wake up and realise that they're Big Boys now, and like the other Big Boys of Industry they need to advertise their products to make them profitable. It's no longer acceptable to dump a videogame on the shelves and expect it to sell off the back of enthusiast press coverage and word-of-mouth. Ever notice that when a 'good' game doesn't sell, we get blamed for either not buying it, or not 'getting it'? Don't look at us, buddy - most of us purchase more videogames per capita than entire family units combined. We've known about your game *at least* six months prior to its release because we read these websites every freakin' day like starved animals with an insatiable appetite for gaming news. We're freakish anomalies and we are not to be relied on for sales, marketing, or otherwise. That's your job; you know, that thing that you get paid to do?

This is 'mature'?

They also need to wake up and realise that there's more than two types of gamer. The IGN Nintendo team (and others) have probably done more harm than they realise for peddling this hardcore/casual BS so aggressively; now developers and publishers are starting to believe it. There are games for old-timers, children, and soccer moms, and there are games for psychotic adolescents who just want to kill things in the most gruesome fashion possible. It's funny, because the terms came into popular use via the mainstream media to describe something they didn't really understand. Gaming journalists latched onto those terms because they didn't really understand nor expect the Wii's success (and still don't), and in the process have denied decades of genre diversity and envelope pushing. Okay, I promised I wouldn't discuss this at length so I'll leave that issue right there. The point is, that like in every other entertainment medium, every type of gamer should expect to be catered for, not beg to be catered for. If a game doesn't sell, it's not because x type of games don't sell on this system; it's because people didn't know about your game, you dolt!

[Aside: Hideo Kojima was just lamenting the lack of a comedy genre in gaming this week at GDC, and I think it's a very valid observation.]

Sega has taken a particularly long time to come to grips with this, which is funny, because they used to understand it. It's no coincidence that Sega's most successful console was the only one they advertised on television on a regular basis. They advertised their games regularly as well. They even made good Sonic games.

Panzer Dragoon Saga: The Greatest Game No-one Played.

If ever there was a Top 100 Greatest Games No-one Played, Sega would probably take out half the list. Shining Force III, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Burning Rangers, Jet Set Radio Future, Shenmue, Panzer Dragoon Orta, Virtua Fighter 2, 3, 4 & 5 - and that's me not even trying. The common denominator? No advertising, save for print ads in comic books and banners on websites. Talk about preaching to the converted! Sales, then, were entirely reliant on enthusiast press coverage and word-of-mouth. You know who else relies on the enthusiast press and word-of-mouth? Local rock bands with NO MONEY. And even they use flyers sometimes. There is NO EXCUSE for multi-million/billion dollar videogame publishers not to adequately advertise their product. It should never come down to the consumer at all - we're not disciples "spreading the Good News", and we're not 'Street Teams' for emo bands with bad hair. We're the customers, dammit. We pay for a videogame, [hopefully] enjoy it, and that's the end of it. Sure, there's nothing to stop us recommending it to someone, or showing it off to our friends, but when the marketing stops with us and not the publisher, then the publisher isn't doing their damn job.

The onus doesn't lie with the gamer to 'vote with their wallet' to ensure that they are catered for with future releases; the onus lies squarely with the publisher to ensure that the product they've spent thousands or even millions on becomes a profitable endeavour, and reaches the largest audience possible. When marketing duties fall to someone who's not even paid to market anything, then it's time to either fire your entire marketing division or get them off their asses and make them do something.

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